California Assemblyman Mike Gatto introduced a state bill this week that would change the rules for reporting rapes on college campuses in an effort to hold universities more accountable. AB 1433 would amend California’s Education Code to require hate crimes and violent crimes, such as homicide, rape, or robbery, that are received by a university’s campus law enforcement agency to be immediately reported to the police.
Gatto became interested in the subject after Occidental College failed to report dozens of sexual assault allegations in 2010 and 2011, which he suspects was to improve their image. Several others have also faced investigations and lawsuits recently for failing to disclose information about crimes that happen on or near campuses, a requirement under the federal Clery Act. “That’s a really poor excuse to fail to investigate a crime like rape. We want to make sure administrations can’t keep stuff hush hush in hopes of making it seem like a school is safe than it really is.”
Gatto’s legislation will not require campus law enforcement agencies to report rapes to police if the victim specifically requests that they do not report it. Gatto added this exception after discussing the bill with rape survivor and UC Berkeley student, Sofie Karasek, who advised him that the survivor’s wishes should be taken into account and respected. Many survivors do not want to report a rape to police because of the stressful reporting and trial process, fear of being blamed or disbelieved, or discomfort with the police, particularly for undocumented students.
If universities do not comply with the new requirements, they can be held liable for damages for negligence.
Media Resources: Newsweek 1/6/14; Examiner 1/8/14; Feminist Newswire 9/16/13, 12/11/13